Tuesday, 5 November 2013

Battlefield 4 launches in shambles and screw you EA

Really this is a rant piece and so may contain some errors and the like but really I am only saying what many others are all over the EA forums, battlelog and fan sites around the world currently, and that is that Battlefield 4 is pretty much fucked at release.  What is more surprising though is that it's not only the PC version which is screwed, it's also the console versions which are suffering very similar issues.

The issues are numerous but the main offenders are:

  • rubber banding
  • Server instability causing crashes
  • lag
  • loss of multiplayer progress
  • freezes or complete lock ups
  • singleplayer save file corruption
  • Direct X errors (PC specific)
  • 100% accurate sniper rifles
  • shoddy spawn locations (allowing players to camp regular spawn spots on the map)
  • random hit detection
  • major audio issues (no footfall sounds, ambient map sounds, vehicles sound cutting out making the maps seem weirdly quiet for such a massive battle going on around you)
Now not every issue is affecting every player, myself I have suffered the Direct X crash during singleplayer, freezing on map load screens, server instability, loss of multiplayer progress.  But when I do get a stable server that loads the map the game runs well for me.  Sadly this isn't the case for some and it's honestly not the way a company like DICE should be operating by now.

I don't know why people have put them on such a high pedestal because they have been coasting in my opinion since bad company 2.  Let's face it, Battlefield 3 was a upgraded version of Bad company 2 and Battlefield 4 hasn't exactly driven the series forward to new heights despite the new console generation coming in.  This current iteration isn't the same kind of advancement that we saw between Battlefield 1942 to Battlefield 2.  It's not that Battlefield 4 is even bad as far as online games go, it has some big improvements over Battlefield 3's systems such as the return of commander mode and more collapsible buildings, but it hasn't made me sit back and go wow.

It's just so confusing that DICE would screw the launch up this badly even on the consoles which more often than not get a much more stable release compared to the PC version.  During the beta I felt the game wasn't shaping up properly and had issues that oddly were not part of Battlefield 3.  It's likely that the changes to the engine have been a little too ambitious for things like "levolution" which is one of the worst buzz words the industry has spat out in ages.  And honestly what does it really add to the experience?  Consider that Battlefield was meant to be the tactical shooter compared to Call of Duty's run and gun Rambo style, so they add mad shit like destroyer ships beaching themselves or entire skyscrapers collapsing like it's a fucking Michael Bay movie or something.

Now DICE have released a few updates like improving server stability and fixing queues for servers, but the real fixes need to be addressed very soon or they risk becoming a running joke online.  They need to fix the audio problems along with the freezing and server crashes ASAP because otherwise they will be seeing stories pop up on major gaming sites soon about the state of the game.  Much like GTA 5 and it's terrible online launch this game shouldn't be given a free pass just because it's DICE.  They fucked up and should have spotted these issues in QA long before the closed beta ended, let alone the open one beginning.  I know DICE likely had little choice because EA as publisher would have been breathing down their necks about the release date but come on, it's a joke and not a particularly funny one.

The biggest frustration is that with all the issues aside the multiplayer is actually pretty fun.  The maps are fresh and visually interesting, the new Chinese faction is at least different even if nothing really makes them stand out from the US and Russia and the combat seems tighter than Battlefield 3 ever was.  I assume these issues will be fixed pretty soon considering the flak it's taking from every side but why didn't the reviewers see this?  Why was it that every major website out there somehow missed these massive and glaringly obvious issues?  Are you seriously telling me that reviewers at IGN, Gametrailers, Eurogamer, Gamespot and many more went online in their test build and thought the lack of ambient sound was normal? or not hearing footsteps? or how about vehicle noises cutting out?  Did all of their maps load without ever freezing? or not ever raise the issue with some sniper rifles having 100% accuracy?

You see this is why sites like Angry joe show, The Cynical Brit, The Spoony Experiment and many many more sites are far, far more trustworthy with their reviews, because they aren't talking from the inside of the publishers ass.  They aren't swallowing all of their horseshit and smiling all the while regurgitating it on the front page of their sites like it's the greatest thing ever made.  Honestly to see a balanced and unbiased review on IGN these days would cause the world to implode it would be so infinitesimally rare.  These professional games journalists and reviewers are too scared these days to say what they want because publishers will pass them over for previews, review code, exclusive interviews and video's.  Advertisers then get pissed that traffic reduces and they go elsewhere, but you know what it shouldn't be about eating bowls of shit and asking for more, it should be about honest and fair journalism, no bullshit and no lies tell us what you experience when you played and if you think it was good or not.

Battlefield 4 currently sits between 8 - 9.5 out of 10 with an aggregate score of 85 on metacritic, but it shouldn't.  Reviewers should have seen the problems and pointed them out and adjusted the score accordingly.  Without even writing my review of the game the score is 6 at launch.  Post patching a 7.5 at best.  I pity the poor bastards who shelled out money for premium this time because it must suck to have paid over here in the UK £70 - £80 with premium for a game that doesn't work properly.  Much like Rome II it should never have been released as it was.

And why was it released November 1st?  Well it had to beat Call of Duty Ghosts and compete with Assassin's Creed 4 obviously.  Why do publishers think loyal Battlefield and shooter fans would buy Call of Duty if it came out first?  Do they think their customer base is fickle?  The funny thing is that most gamers who play multiple genres will likely buy all three anyway, regardless of release date.  I bought Battlefield 4 and will eventually get Assassin's Creed 4, either way the publisher get their money.  These ridiculous scrambles to launch their games first only end up hurting the customer in the long run because developers release buggy games that need patching up the arse to make playable.  Rome II is still in the midst of patching and still isn't working solidly for 99% of the player base.  Battlefield 4 will suffer the same fate with users posting the same issues months after release because the fixes will alleviate the issues for the majority but not everyone.

In essence we as consumers need to stand for higher quality products from our favourite developers, we need to get it through the thick skulls of publishers that players don't mind waiting for a good game to be ready.  We don't need annualised franchises or rushed sequels, in the end a good game will always sell because people only have positive things to say about it.  If Battlefield 4 had been held back until mid to late November I honestly don't think anyone would have minded. 

But after all this text will anything change?  Not likely, publishers will still treat it's consumers as morons, developers will continue to release buggy games, DLC will still nickle and dime us, DRM will become more draconian and the majority of players will simply stand in line for the next yearly update to their favourite franchise, all the while unaware that it's industry practices like those above that are killing innovation in gaming.  At least we have Star Citizen to break the monotony of EVE and actually bring real space fights to us without the needless point and click gaming from the year 2000, Valve will eventually give us Half Life 3 to remind us what a proper singleplayer shooter is and ARMA III will demonstrate what a real military shooter is without the need for Hollywood style set pieces or macho characterisation of every character.

Fuck it I'm tired, see you all later in the week.


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